Fresh Hope in Unexpected Places

I was flown out to Chicago last week for a meeting concerning NYC (Nazarene Youth Conference... happens every 4 years). They gathered 15 youth pastors, along with 5 hired staff, to imagineer what NYC could be, should be... will be. The meeting was well organized, exciting for all and I think highly productive. We met from 8-3 and then Rolly Richert and his assistant Holly (our new friends who plan large gatherings as a vocation~Resume: DCLAs/Dare 2 Shares, Billy G., etc), had to jet, but the meeting was supposed to go until 4. This is where the truly exciting, perhaps life-changing part began for me.

For quite sometime I have sensed some unsettledness with the old system of church. I have felt that new forms must emerge if the church is to survive (and even thrive) in this new generation and its culture. I am also passionate about the fact that we are not looking for a new model (i.e. "Purpose-Drive" vs. "Willowcreek" vs. "Communal Living", etc.). I feel that many models must emerge to reflect the various needs and identities in our culture. In the past, this has not been the case. We present one basic form or church and expect everyone to fit into the system. Although this has worked somewhat effectively for the baby boomer generation, it has left many who are seeking something different lying by the roadside angry at a church that doesn't understand them and hasn't even tried to. Post-baby boomer generations present a great problem. Their styles are more varied, their desires are more commonly expressed, their distaste is more vocal and their unwillingness to fit into someone else's box has led to the greatest exodus from the "church" that we have ever seen. Some have caught on elsewhere, plugging into creative communities, connecting with brothers and sisters who understand one another and are motivated by the call of compassion, love and mutual concern that are more commonly found in this upcoming generation of leaders and followers. Many have simply left though, and it would be almost impossible for them to return to the structure they ran from. There is a need for new communities with a fresh perspective on the gospel of Christ and a radical way of living it out that will connect with the heart of this generation, this culture.

I feel stirred toward that call. I feel led toward that end, but I have been struggling with what that means and where that will lead us. Does that lead us away from the community of believers God has surrounded us with, from those we share meals with, from those we share struggles with, from those we share victories with? Does it mean starting over with new friends, a new community and a new denomination even? What are the implications of following this call God is placing on my heart? The questions go on, but the answers have been rare to come by. They have teased me, with meager glimpses of hope and future, while avoiding active resolution.

Many of those questions were answered last Wednesday, between 3:15 and 3:45 pm (C.S.T.). Hope was offered up. A new community to discuss these questions in a meaningful, promising and life-giving was was introduced. An alternative reason we were together was made known; to discover what "emergent communities" could look like with the end goal of action in mind.

The Lord's timing is unbelievable. He continually allows me questions institutions, systems and beliefs in my life, right up to the point of rejection and then he infuses hope into my despair. He allows me to go to the brink, the the edge of the cliff and then pulls me back into his arms. By doing this he is continually reminding me that NOTHING is more important than HIM. I must be willing to leave everything behind, everything that makes be comfortable, everything that provides for my family, everything that I am trained and qualified to be and do. I must be willing to reject it all, and then he will reveal whether or not I need to.

I have intentionally been somewhat vague, but I think you get the point. God has restored hope in me, in some areas that it had dwindled down to nothing. He has reminded me that it is only in surrender TO Him, that I will find true life IN Him. He has revealed to me that my "call" is to His service, and what that looks like may (and probably will) drastically change some day.

This all excites me, but it also freaks me out. Peace.
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